Some mental health conditions are thought to be more prevalent in women. However, men can be just as challenged with the struggles of mental illness. Given the stigma associated with mental health conditions, men are less likely to acknowledge their issues and to seek treatment. Borderline personality disorder in men is a condition that needs more attention, particularly for those men needing help with its impact on their lives.
Difficulty Regulating Emotion
When an individual has difficulties regulating their emotions, they may be diagnosed with a condition known as borderline personality disorder. Those who experience this condition will feel their emotions intensely for long periods of time. It is usually more difficult for them to return to a stable baseline after they’ve gone through an emotionally triggering event.
The inability to regulate emotion can lead to poor self-image, difficult relationships, impulsiveness, and an intensely emotional response to stressors. When a person struggles with self-regulation, they can also engage in dangerous behaviors, including self-harm.
Misdiagnosed in Men
About 1.4% of adults in the US experience borderline personality disorder. Almost three-fourths of those diagnosed are women. However, research suggests that men may be equally affected by the condition but are often misdiagnosed with other mental health conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), conduct disorder, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests that, rather than looking at each symptom separately in a man, the key may be to look at the collection of symptoms as a whole as well as the intensity of the emotions he experiences.
Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder in Men
Borderline personality disorder in men may manifest itself in the following symptoms, which are considered red flags to look for by NAMI.
Numerous and frequent relationships, often close together. A man with borderline personality disorder will experience a fear of abandonment and, as a result, refuse to commit to a romantic relationship. He may have multiple relationships, close together, that end after an argument or when he scares his partner away with a quick temper and possible physical aggression. He will have issues with controlling his emotions which often results in a quick ending to the relationship. He will then move on to a new relationship relatively quickly.
Behaviors and attitudes filled with drama. Women are usually thought of as being dramatic, but men can be so as well. Their drama will look a little different, though. A man with borderline personality disorder will have fluctuating emotions that can range from respect and idealizing someone to becoming emotionally detached and resentful. This drama can also affect a man’s frequent and turbulent romantic relationships.
Thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that are constantly up and down. A man with borderline personality disorder can change quickly from being warm and loving to being cold and distant, even angry and hostile. He can exhibit a stable and consistent pattern of behavior for a while and then suddenly change into what may seem like a completely different person.
Behaviors that seem designed to draw attention. Men with borderline personality disorder seem to want attention. They will engage in self-destructive behaviors, such as cutting, and then draw attention to the fact that they have done so. They may exhibit a loud attitude, make accusations of being unloved and abandoned, or be aggressive in an effort to gain attention. Other risky behaviors can be unprotected sex, fathering children with different women, and making threats to keep everyone afraid of him.
Dependency and co-dependency. An individual’s fear of abandonment can make it difficult for him to maintain a healthy, safe, and satisfying relationship. In contrast, he may engage in a dependent or co-dependent relationship with someone who relies on him, emotionally and psychologically. The relationship is dependent on his partner, who may be just as psychologically and emotionally unstable as the man with borderline personality disorder.
Manipulating loved ones with suicide threats or attempts. In an effort to manipulate a loved one or to convince them that he is lovable, a man with borderline personality disorder may threaten suicide. For example, a man who becomes jealous of his wife talking to another man may threaten suicide if she does not stop talking to him.
Suicidal thoughts that alleviate the pain. Some men will seriously consider suicide when the symptoms of their mental health condition cause difficulties in their life. Their pain and their fear of abandonment is so intensified that their suicidal thoughts may temporarily comfort them.
Mental Health Treatment for Men at PACE
When you are experiencing the symptoms of a mental health condition such as borderline personality disorder, it is time to reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. Asking for help is a sign of strength. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your mental health and substance use issues. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.
At PACE, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.